POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 1/21

House Republicans Start Acting Like They’re in Minority

“House Republicans appeared to be coming to grips with a stark realization as they returned to Washington from a three-day retreat here — they have a majority in name only,” The Hill reports.

“The party begins the 113th Congress with reduced numbers and confronting a popular president and an increased Democratic majority in the Senate. Preparing for a cascade of fiscal battles and a presidential push on guns and immigration, the House GOP is adopting a minority posture, hoping to achieve modest goals incrementally while serving as a check on Obama’s ambitious second-term agenda.”

Obama Eyes His Legacy

Associated Press: “Presidential terms are measured by sweeping laws and stirring events, but legacies are about enduring ideas. The one Barack Obama has in mind will drive most everything he tries to do in the next four years: assuring that America is a place where anyone can make it.”

“This is the playbook of a Democrat who thinks the basic compact between a nation and its people has been broken, who sees government as more of an aggressive force for good than a bureaucratic menace to society.”

Gallup and USA Today Split

Gallup will no longer be conducting polls for USA Today, the Washington Post reports.

“It’s not clear at this point which side broke off the arrangement or what the reason was” but USA Today says it “is in the final stages of negotiating an arrangement with another polling organization.”

Stephen Colbert’s Sister to Launch Congressional Bid

Stephen Colbert’s sister is going to run for Congress, BuzzFeed reports.

Elizabeth Colbert-Busch will run in the special election for appointed Sen. Tim Scott’s (R-SC) old House seat.

She will file officially on Tuesday, the Washington Post notes.

Nagin Indicted on Corruption Charges

A federal grand jury charged former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin (D) with 21 counts of corruption, bribery, conspiracy, money laundering, wire fraud and filing false tax returns, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

Nagin’s long-expected indictment arrived more than two and a half years after he left City Hall and relocated to Dallas.

House Republicans Retreat on Debt Ceiling Threat

“Backing down from their hard-line stance, House Republicans said Friday that they would agree to lift the federal government’s statutory borrowing limit for three months, with a requirement that both chambers of Congress pass a budget in that time to clear the way for negotiations on long-term deficit reduction,” the New York Times reports.

But the Washington Post notes the strategy “faces an uncertain future with Democrats, who fear that dragging out the debt ceiling fight into the spring would inject new and harmful uncertainty into the economy.”

Mark Halperin: “Right now, the most important dynamic in the fiscal cliff fight is the advantages the Democrats have: the President is more popular than congressional Republicans; Democrats are more united than Republicans on strategy and tactics; and the President is about to have unmatchable platforms with the inauguration and State of the Union.”

GOP Lawmaker Admits Hastert Rule is Dead

Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) admitted to TPM that the “Hastert Rule” — which says Republicans will only bring legislation to the floor which is supported by a majority of the majority — may be inoperable in the House when it comes to crucial legislation like raising the debt ceiling.

Said Fleming: “I think the Republicans would have a real problem giving the president a clean debt ceiling, even… short term. Maybe some would do it, but I think to get a majority of the majority vote, I think it’s impossible.”

He added: “I think that the majority of the majority Hastert rule comes out of a time when we had a Republican president. When you have a Democrat president that’s a very hard thing to achieve sometimes — and not necessarily important.”

Murray Will Not Run for Top Job in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray (D) told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette that he will not run for governor in 2014, “citing the demands of campaigning, serving in elected office and his desire to spend more time with his wife and two young daughters.”

“Murray’s decision is expected to create a wide-pen field for the Democratic nomination for governor next year.”

GOP Senator Insists Congress will Raise Debt Ceiling

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told the Houston Chronicle that Congress will not allow an impasse over raising the debt ceiling to result in the federal government defaulting on its spending obligations.

Said Cornyn: “We will raise the debt ceiling. We’re not going to default on our debt… I will tell you unequivocally, we’re not going to default.”

“Cornyn’s fellow Republicans, particularly in the House, have been trying to use the issue of the debt ceiling to force President Obama to agree to spending cuts.”

The Week: Why Republicans will raise the debt ceiling.

Organizing for Action

First Read has more on last night’s news that Obama for America is reorganizing as a tax exempt advocacy group called Organizing for Action.

“Organizing for Action will be set up as a 501c4 group, but we are told the group will have full disclosure of its donors (either monthly or quarterly); setting it up a 501c4 (as opposed to a Super PAC) makes it easier to legally coordinate with the White House. But the Obama folks are conceding a big point here: They can’t do the things they want to do (like the organizing, etc.) inside the Democratic Party. If this version of OFA is successful, we’re also told then don’t be surprised if this becomes Obama’s personal vehicle post-presidency, a la Bill Clinton’s Clinton Global Initiative.”

But as I note in The Cloakroom, if he’s not careful, the unprecedented move could end up derailing his agenda as much as advancing it.

Lawmaker Wants Redskins to Change Name

Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), on of only two Native American members of Congress, said that the Washington Redskins should change its team name because it is racially offensive to the minority group, Roll Call reports.

Said Cole: “Come on. This is the 21st century. This is the capital of political correctness on the planet. It is very, very, very offensive. This isn’t like warriors or chiefs. It’s not a term of respect, and it’s needlessly offensive to a large part of our population. They just don’t happen to live around Washington, D.C.”

Will Obama Give a Memorable Inaugural Speech?

George Packer: “I hope Obama surprises us. I hope he throws out the kind of boilerplate that made last year’s convention speech one of the weaker ones in Charlotte. I hope that Obama the writer finds some vivid prose for the occasion; that Obama the thinker treats us like his intellectual equals, as he did in Philadelphia and Oslo; and that Obama the man allows himself the risk of deep feeling, as he did in Tucson and Newtown. Most of all, I hope Obama the politician is willing to say things that some people might not want to hear.”

Americans Down on Republicans

The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that 49% of Americans hold a negative view of the Republican Party while 26% have a positive view. By comparison, the Democratic Party has a net positive rating, with 44% holding a favorable view of the party and 38% holding an unfavorable one.

First Read: “By the way, most of the recent negative movement for the GOP is among core Republicans. The GOP was already viewed very negatively by Democrats and indies; it couldn’t really get much worse with those two groups. So this latest shift for the GOP is due to the fact that a growing number of core Republicans were not happy with how the party handled the fiscal cliff.”

One of the Most Inexperienced Congresses in History

Susan Davis: “Unproductive and unpopular are two words most often used to describe the previous Congress, but a new description can be used for the new session: inexperienced.”

“Nearly two in five lawmakers in the U.S. House, 39%, have served for less than three years, according to data compiled by the non-partisan Cook Political Report. It’s the least experienced House since at least 1995, when an election wave swept the Republicans into power.”

Obama Opens Second Term with Majority Approval

A new New York Times/CBS News poll finds 51% of Americans approve of the way President Obama is doing is job with 41% disapproving.

“Mr. Obama’s job approval rating is similar to that of George W. Bush at the start of his second term, but much lower than the ratings of the previous two presidents who served eight years. (President Bill Clinton’s approval rate was 60 percent in January 1997 and Ronald Reagan’s was 62 percent in January 1985.) More than 8 in 10 Democrats approve of his job performance, 8 in 10 Republicans disapprove and independents are evenly divided.”

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